It is for the first time that an Indian Navy P-8I aircraft has been deployed to Australia outside of a routine military exercise…writes Ateet Sharma
Reaffirming its continued commitment to working closely together with the Quad partners to ensure a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, the Indian Navy has deployed a P-8I maritime patrol aircraft to Darwin to conduct coordinated exercises with a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon aircraft.
It is for the first time that an Indian Navy P-8I aircraft has been deployed to Australia outside of a routine military exercise.
The aircraft arrived in Darwin on Tuesday and will, over the course of the week, conduct joint submarine and surface surveillance activities reflecting the strength of expanding India-Australia defence and security partnership.
“Pleased to welcome the deployment of an Indian Maritime Patrol Aircraft (P-8I) to Darwin this week – a reflection of the deepening trust and cooperation between our militaries as we work together on common security interests,” tweeted General Angus Campbell, the chief of the Australian Defence Force.
Australia’s Acting Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Stephen Meredith, said the activity was a landmark opportunity for India and Australia to practise coordinated maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare and build interoperability.
“Coordinated activities like these are key to enhancing Australia’s maritime capabilities and building maritime domain awareness. This activity reflects the deepening trust between India and Australia’s defence forces and our enduring commitment to work together on common security interests,” said Air Vice-Marshal Meredith.
Canberra stated that its defence relationship with New Delhi is at a historic peak, with activities between the two countries quadrupling since 2014.
“India is a top-tier security partner and shares our commitment to a secure and stable Indo-Pacific. This activity will pave the way for deeper and more sophisticated operational cooperation between our militaries,” tweeted Australia’s Department of Defence.
It mentioned that both nations are doing more together to enhance maritime information sharing and maritime domain awareness with this activity taking the practical cooperation to the next level.
The P-8I aircraft landed in Darwin as the three-day 14th Indian Navy-Royal Australian Navy talks concluded in New Delhi on Wednesday.
The meeting was co-chaired by Deputy Chief of Royal Australian Navy, Rear Admiral Christopher Smith and Rear Admiral J Singh, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Foreign Cooperation and Intelligence) of the Indian Navy.
Commodore Stewart Dunne, Hydrographer to the Scott Morrison government also attended the meeting.
The Indian Navy said that major issues discussed during the meeting included maritime operations, information exchange and training. Both sides also acknowledged the growing cooperation between the two Navies amid the emerging challenges on the maritime front, and agreed to enhance collaboration and interoperability towards ensuring maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region.
Last week, Dunne had led an Australian Hydrography team to the National Hydrographic Office (NHO) in Dehradun.
During a meeting with Vice Admiral Adhir Arora, the Chief Hydrographer to the Government of India, both sides discussed bilateral hydrographic cooperation and strategic partnership in the region.
Meanwhile, India continues to take giant steps to increase defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific with another Quad partner, the United States.
After the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue between the two countries in Washington, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reached Hawaii on Tuesday for a visit to the Headquarters of United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM).
Singh is scheduled to visit the USINDOPACOM headquarters, Pacific Fleet and the training facilities in Hawaii tonight (local time) before returning to India.
The Indian Defence Minister’s visit to Hawaii comes after the Pentagon once again highlighted the increasing China threat in the Indo-Pacific region.
“The People’s Republic of China is seeking to refashion the region and the international system more broadly in ways that serve its interests. And so I’m pleased that we’ve identified new opportunities to extend the operational reach of our militaries and to coordinate more closely together across the expanse of the Indo-Pacific,” said Lloyd Austin, the US Secretary of Defence at the conclusion of India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue on Monday.
Austin had also said that the US supports India as a defence industry leader in the Indo-Pacific and “a net provider of security” in the region.